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Requiem for a Rapper

Why was Kenny Smith shot by police? While his family and friends wait for answers, they ponder the tragic loss of a promising artist



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As soon as the shooting started outside Wilbert's, calls began pouring in to the Cleveland Police dispatch center. One came from an off-duty police officer who identified himself as Jones and said he was following a suspected shooter who had jumped inside a gold Saturn.

"I'm still looking at him, he's looking for his boys. He's still here," Jones told the dispatcher, according to a copy of the 911 tape provided to Scene by Shauna Smith's attorney, Terry Gilbert.

When the dispatcher asked if Jones had approached the suspect, he said, "I will as soon as the zone car gets here. I'm all by myself. I'm off-duty. I was at the bar having a drink."

"Oh yeah, I hear you, man," the dispatcher replied sympathetically.

According to a Cleveland Police press release, after phoning the dispatcher, off-duty Officer Roger Jones moved in on the Saturn on foot. At East 9th and Prospect, the five-year police veteran, with assistance from a zone car carrying uniformed officers, stopped the car. All three riders were ordered out of the vehicle. Hill and Purdie complied; Smith did not. The officer spotted a handgun near Smith and broke out the window, ordering Smith to put his hands up. Smith reached for the gun, and Jones shot him in the left side of the head.

Cleveland Police spokesman Sgt. Sammy Morris declined to answer additional questions about the shooting which is still under investigation. He also declined to guess when the results would be released. "Once the investigation is completed, it will all be part of the public record," he told Scene.

Morris also could not comment on whether Jones had been drinking the night of the shooting, or if a blood alcohol content was taken after the incident. The blood alcohol content of officers involved in shootings is taken depending "on what the investigators see and detect, so I couldn't tell you until the investigation is completed," says Morris.

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